Rafael Nadal, nearing 35, says retirement not on his mind at all

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MADRID — Less than a month from his 35th birthday, Rafael Nadal is not thinking about retirement at all.

Speaking by video conference after winning his fourth Laureus Award, the 20-time Grand Slam champion was asked how many more years he wants to play.

“Well, thanks for the question, but no idea,” Nadal replied. “I can’t predict my future. I am not worried about that. When the day arrives, I’m going to know.”

And what might that day be like?

It’ll be, Nadal explained, when he no longer feels that he “can keep fighting or keep enjoying the competition at the level I am used to.”

His honor as Sportsman of the Year during a digital ceremony from Seville, Spain, was not the only Laureus Award for someone from the world of tennis: Naomi Osaka was selected as Sportswoman of the Year and Billie Jean King got the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Among the other recipients were Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, the first winner of the Athlete Advocate of the Year for his work against racism; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Breakthrough Award; Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot, Comeback Award; Bayern Munich, Team of the Year; Liverpool star Mo Salah, Sporting Inspiration Award.

Nadal, who is competing this week at the clay-court Madrid Open, adds this latest Laureus recognition to his 2006 Breakthrough Award, 2011 Sportsman Award and 2014 Comeback Award.

This one arrives after he won his record-extending 13th French Open championship last October, allowing the Spaniard to equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 major singles trophies overall.

Nadal can break that mark by winning another title at Roland Garros, where main-draw play begins May 30. He’ll turn 35 on June 3.

“The titles or the numbers never distract (from) my goal, and my goal is just to keep going. … I am still motivated,” Nadal said. “I would love to give myself a chance to win another time in Paris. Let’s see.”

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.